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corporate dominance | government | imperialism & war selection 2004

Dennis Kucinich speaks to, and with, SRO crowd at Lane Community College

Dennis Kucinich, still running for presidential nominee of the Democratic Party spoke to, and with, an audience of hundreds (easily more than 500) in Eugene from 1:30 to about 3:15 today (Sunday, March 28, 2204). Answering questions more than 20 members of the crowd, Dennis addressed such issues as corporate globalization and corporate control of the media and of the vote-counting apparatus, problems of the Democratic Party, Ralph Nader's candidacy as an Independent, the 9-11 investigation, supporting U.S. troops in Iraq and abuse of the word/concept of "patriotism".
Any people who have yet to hear Dennis speak in a venue small enough that you can see and connect with the man owe it to themselves to get out and hear him. It's like going back before television, maybe to the days of Abe Lincoln, when public speaking was the way that candidates made themselves known and that issues got discussed. Dennis is a great speaker. Maybe not as great as Martin Luther King, Jr., but he's more than just good. He's sincere, eloquent, impassioned and humorous. I had never heard him before and I expected a performance about like what we get from out Fourth District Congressman, Peter DeFazio, who shares with Dennis membership in the leadership of the House Progressive Caucus and takes most of the same positions on issues as Dennis does. Pete has the sincerity and is able to respond on any issue more than adequately, and I have no complaints whatsoever about how he represents the Fourth District and Oregon, but Pete just doesn't compare with Dennis as a public speaker. I say this with all due respect to our own Peter DeFazio, whose integrity and indefatigable commitment to progressive democracy cannot be over-stated. Pete is one of us. Solidarity.

The media won't give Kucinich any sound bites, but even if they did, you can't get Dennis from a sound bite. The theme that Dennis returned to repeatedly was that we, the people, need to "claim the power of our humanity" to strike down the institutions that oppress us and threaten the future of the country and of the world. Dennis used a story from Lewis Carroll's ALICE IN WONDERLAND to illustrate what he was talking about. Just as Alice confronted the seemingly terrifying and awesome power of all the minions of the Queen by rising to the stature of a human being so that the deck of cards could be seen as nothing more than a deck of playing cards, which Alice struck down with a swipe of her hand, so we can sweep away the institutions of repression that seemingly dwarf us and appear as invulnerable to anything we might do. Institutions like the WTO are nothing more than a pack of playing cards and are not at all superior to the power of humanity, if we would only claim that power.

ON THE ISSUES:

CORPORATE GLOBALIZATION: Dennis is excellent at explaining what trade really is and he ridicules the idea that NAFTA and the WTO are what makes trade possible. As Dennis pointed out in no uncertain terms, NAFTA and the WTO are about cheap wages and depriving workers of any rights and ABOUT NOTHING ELSE. Dennis challenges the Democratic Party to come out in favor of pulling out of NAFTA and the WTO, which can be done by presidential action alone without any requirement for approval by the Senate or the House. Even if the pending FTAA and other trade pacts pending under "fast-track" authority are negotiated to include protection of workers and of the environment, that will not be enough because the WTO would treat those protections as unlawful barriers to trade. The trade program advocated by Dennis would scrap the entire so-called "free trade" structure and start over with something based on the fundamental concept of trade as a two-way street. Specifically, Dennis called for a world-wide end to the corporate drive to privatize water resources, stating that there should be a world-wide ban (inlcuding the U.S.) on the privatization of water supply.

CORPORATE CONTROL OF THE MEDIA AND OF THE VOTE-COUNTING APPARATUS: When someone brought up this question, Dennis paused for a moment and held his chin, as though unable to add anything to the statement by the questioner about these problems. To tremendous applause and a standing ovation, Dennis affirmed the great importance of these issues and his commitment to bringing such stuff to an end.

ABOUT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Dennis said that it isn't as though someone had put a stuffed donkey into his crib the day he was born. He pointed out that he had been active in politics, winning primary and general elections, FOR SEVEN YEARS before he was ever endorsed by the Democratic Party county committee in Cleveland, Ohio, his home town and the place where he got his start in politics. Dennis Kucinich has no illusions whatsoever about the Democratic Party, but he does believe that the people can transform the party, just as the people can wipe out the WTO, because the people are more powerful than the institutions. It was pretty clear that there will be no automatic endorsement of the Democratic ticket in 2004. In order to make the people's voice heard in the Democratic Party, we need to give Dennis a clear victory here in Oregon in the May 18 primary election. When a questioner identified herself as one of many who, although not a Democrat, are attracted to Kucinich, Dennis said that we definitely need those individuals to register as Democrats and to vote in the May 18 Democratic Party primary.

ABOUT RALPH NADER: When asked about Nader, Dennis responded that he had known Nader and has been calling him "Ralph" for over 30 years. Nader, Dennis said, was the only national figure who came to Cleveland to support him (as mayor of Cleveland) in his battle to prevent the privatization of Cleveland's publicly owned electrical utility. Since then and over the years, Dennis said, he has many times found himself supported by and working with "Ralph" on many, many issues. Dennis restrained from any kind of criticism of Ralph Nader and, although stopping short of an endorsement of Ralph's candidacy, Dennis gave Ralph an unequivocal personal endorsement as of one activist to another. There was no mention of any kind of "spoiler" role played by Nader either in 2004 or in 2000. On other issues also, Dennis stays away from any personal vindictiveness and never resorts to arguments that are "ad hominem."

THE 9-11 INVESTIGATION: Dennis indicated that although he recognized that there was a technical analysis of 9-11 happening today, that he takes little interest in pursuing a "blame" approach to the 9-11 tragedy. He said that he thought that what the country needed was something that had never happened because the 9-11 tragedy had been expropriated by the Bush Administration as a false "justification" for the unlawful attack on Iraq, and what had never happened as a consequence was a national recognition and examination of the deeper meaning of the 9-11 tragedy. Dennis called for an examination of the "spiritual" dimension of the 9-11 horrors as of more importance than a "technical" approach. He compared the nation to a big family that has suffered a horrible loss of loved ones.

SUPPORTING U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ AND PATRIOTISM: There was a banner along one wall of the meeting room that put the issue of supporting the troops into perspective: "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS -- BRING THEM HOME" Responding to a question by a veteran, Dennis agreed that the word "patriot" had been expropriated and abused by the corporate media. Patriotism should not be taken as meaning "WAR", Dennis said, it should mean "PEACE". This statement brought another standing ovation. Dennis said that we need to pay attention to words and to the semantics that are being foisted on us. For example, he said, if there is a "patriotism", then shouldn't there be at least as important "MATRIOTISM" in America?
great story! 29.Mar.2004 00:32

indy reader

this is the kind of story about the pResidential election i love to read -- honest, original coverage by a regular person. it's so much better and more informative than the tripe served up by the corporate media. as analysis, this piece blows away all the crap on the newswire about kerrykerrykerrybushbushbushnaderspoiler that we see so much of.

in a word, bravo!

well written 29.Mar.2004 09:48

peacenik

Thank you so much. I think this should be a feature.

what will kucinich do post-convention? 29.Mar.2004 16:51

gb

I think it's interesting to ask, what will Kucinich do post-convention? Some people have criticized him as being a trojan horse to keep disaffected Democrats from bolting, and ensuring that ultimately, the corporate robot who actually gets the nomination can still count on their votes.

The test will be whom Kucinich decides to endorse. It's a dilemma for him, because were he to endorse Nader, it might be the kiss-of-death for him among hardcore Democratic funding interests like the national labor leadership. On the other hand, if he endorses Kerry, it will be considered proof that he was really exactly the sort of trojan horse for the Democratic establishment interests that critics accused him of being.

Perhaps the shrewdest course he could take would be not to endorse anyone, but to simply urge voters to vote their consciences, while respecting the views of those who think that the urgency of getting rid of Bush justifies voting for someone like John Kerry.

Dennis is too nice 29.Mar.2004 17:36

ben

it'd be great if someone out there could ask Dennis more about 911. I like DK's answer above but, don't you think that everyone in America would like to know more about 911. What is going to get people to go out of their way to vote, people that normally don't care, they don't understand the policy differences. But these people will understand the demand for all the truth about 911 to be told before the elections. Kucinich should be calling for the 911 commission to subpoena rice, cheney and bush. This does matter, we the people, deserve to know. All of their excuses point to cover-up, we can't just let em get away with it.

Trust me, there are people out there that you can try to explain the policy differences to, how DK's policy will be better for everyone... but they just don't get it. These people are non-voters... everything sucks and they don't know DK is different. Calling for the truth on 911 will wake up these sleepers.

and of course demanding a trial re: the lying about the war.

It'll never happen because i guess DK is just to PC, but wouldn't it be cool if Kucinich said, you elect me, and we'll send Bush and his cronies to the International Criminal Court.

the majority of Americans want these guys behind bars, and those that don't are still believing the lies. this would get people out of their houses and pumped up about Kucinich.

We don't just want life in prison, we want Bush Cheney to serve 30 yrs hard labor, let em dig ditches in the south. if fact, you know that movie Truman, with cameras following him 24/7... i think we should have the bush/cheney chain gang channel, 24/7/365 the stooges doing hard labor with NEVER FORGET splashed across the screen.